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Testing Accommodations

Accommodation and Compliance: Testing Accommodations

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Individuals with disabilities can have many different types of limitations that affect their abilities to take tests. These individuals may need accommodations when taking employment exams, standardized tests, licensure exams, and classroom exams. Individuals with disabilities who are protected by disability legislation (such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act) can ask for, and receive, accommodations in order to take tests.

The following questions are typical testing accommodation questions received at JAN’s national toll-free hotline. A JAN consultant who is familiar with various types of disabilities and who is familiar with the ADA and other disability legislation crafted the responses. These responses are not guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and are not intended to be legal advice.

What is alternative format?

Alternative format is any format that is different from the existing test. Alternative format may be: large print, Braille, color-coded text, audio (reader, tape/cd, or computer).

What is extended time?

Extended time means allowing the test-taker extra time to complete the test. The amount of extended time should be correlated to the test-taker’s disability or limitations. Common examples of extended time include: time and a half, double time, and unlimited time.

What is a reader?

A reader is a person who reads the test to the test-taker. This person should be familiar with the terminology or language used on the test. A reader does not interpret, re-word, or explain the test. A reader reads the test directions, questions, and answer choices to the test-taker.

What is a scribe?

A scribe is a person who writes down, or otherwise records, the test-taker’s responses. The scribe does not create answers for the test-taker or help the test-taker identify correct answers. The scribe simply writes the test-taker’s answers down on the test or answer sheet.

What type of tests will people need accommodations for?

A person with a disability can ask for an accommodation on any exam. Some examples of exams are: teaching license exams, driver’s license exams, college entrance exams, exams in college or technical school, employment tests, and typing tests.

Who can ask for accommodations in testing?

Individuals with disabilities that inhibit their abilities to take tests can ask for an accommodation.

How does a person with disability ask for a testing accommodation?

A person with a disability can ask for an accommodation when registering to take a test. Oftentimes, the testing company provides testing accommodation forms to submit. The individual can also make a request verbally or in writing. The person with a disability is responsible for providing documentation of a disability, and the individual can describe the type of accommodation that will be effective.

Do testing accommodations cost the test-taker extra money?

No. The test-taker needing an accommodation pays the same cost as any person taking the same test.

Will test scores or standards be lowered/changed/altered for person with disability?

Generally, no. If all test-takers must obtain a certain “passing score,” so must the test-taker with a disability. The test-taker with a disability may need an accommodation to help meet the standard, but the standard does not have to be lowered, changed, or altered.

One exception to this rule is a situation where the test standard is arbitrary or is not related to the educational or employment requirements. For example, an employee must be able to type 40 words per minute to pass an employment test, but typing is not an essential function of the job.

Will a person with a disability be granted a “test exemption” as an accommodation?

Generally, no. If the test is a requirement of the application process, the job, class or program, or licensing credentials, the test-taker with a disability will probably have to take the test. The test-taker with a disability may, however, ask for an accommodation to assist with the taking the test.

What types of accommodations might be helpful to a test taker? 

Limitations in Cognitive/Neurological Abilities: 

Limitations in Motor Abilities:  

Limitations in Sensory Abilities: 

Other Limitations: 

Situations and Solutions:

The following situations and solutions are real-life examples of accommodations that were made by JAN customers. Because accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis, these examples may not be effective for every workplace but give you an idea about the types of accommodations that are possible.

JAN Publications & Articles regarding Testing Accommodations


Consultants' Corner Articles

Events Regarding Testing Accommodations